Wednesday, October 11, 2006


A new study has estimated that 655,000 more people have died since the U.S. invasion of Iraq than would have died had things continued as they were.

Think about that number. 655,000. That's an unimaginable number of human lives. Of which 30% are estimated to have been directly killed by U.S. and allied forces. And again: that's not 655,000 people killed, but 655,00 more people killed than would have otherwise been.

Here is David Brown's article for the Washington Post -- bizarrely buried on page A12 rather than blazoned on A1.

The previous study done by many of the same researchers came under a lot of criticism -- largely unfair criticism. So in preparation for the inevitable wave of attacks on this new study, let me recommend the various Crooked Timber posts on the previous study's methodology and critics: first post, second post. As Kevin Drum says, not only is it the case that "their [earlier] methodology turned out to be sound and the objections mostly didn't hold water," but "the figures from their new study buttress the previous one, and also match up with other data, which suggests their methodology is on target."

One frequent critique of the earlier study was based on the confidence interval which was wide -- although, as the second of the two Crooked Timber posts notes, people tended to emphasize only the lower side of the figure: "If your critique of an estimate is that the range is too wide... it is dishonest to title your essay “100,000 dead – or 8,000?” when all you actually have arguments to support is “100,000 dead – or 8,000 – or 194,000?”" Even if this distortion is repeated, however, it will be little help to apologists this time around, since (via Juan Cole), the lower end of the confidence interval is 420,000 -- still an utterly horrific figure. And, of course, it is equally likely that the upper end is correct, and as many as 790,000 are on our consciences. Although, of course, the 655,000 figure is the most likely.

This is a staggering, horrifying figure which can't be wished away. We need to deal with what we are responsible for. Although how can a nation begin to atone for something like this?

Blog round-up:

Juan Cole has a very good summary of the study. (This is the blog post to read if you only read one.)
Glenn Greenwald has commentary here.
Digby puts this figure in context.
Matt Yglesias comments (briefly) here.
Sam Rosenfeld notes how the two Crooked Timber posts kept him from drinking the apologists' kool-aid.
Shakespeare's Sister comments here, and also notes Bush's (groundless) dismissal of the study here.
Via Crooked Timber (natch), the actual report is here (pdf file).
John Cole has the Top 10 GOP Excuses about the report; earlier post on the same blog here.
• At the TNR blog, Bradford Plumford and (more briefly) Elspeth Reeve comment.
Ampersand critiques the NYT coverage of the study. (He also had an earlier post on the matter here.)
• DJW of Lawyers, Guns and Money tackles some of the apologists here and here.
Majikthise weighs in with a lengthy post.
And Arthur Silber.
And Amanda Marcotte.

I'll add more links as I see them.

Update: Links added. I'm busy today, and don't have time to surf around much, but I thought I'd see more discussion than I have. Save for a few people who simply linked to/quoted from news about the survey, the above is all I've seen. Probably I just don't have time to look properly, but I can't help but wonder if we're just all inured to the horror by now. Or are other horrors simply too consuming? Anyway, if anyone else has any links I've missed (and I'm sure there's lots), please leave them in comments.

Further Update(s): More links added.

Final Updates: I'm going to stop collecting links, because this way madness lies. But as a final few pointers, here's Majikthise's second post on the topic (first is linked above); and two posts from Crooked Timber (new ones, on the latest study, not the ones I linked above): first, second. Okay. That's it. -- Finito. -- Really. -- Stop snickering, it's not polite.

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